Building Lightning Safe Communities: An Architect’s Perspective

LAS VEGAS, Nev., June 6, 2019 — The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) is working to shine a spotlight on the lightning hazard and expand its “building lightning safe communities” initiative through outreach with mitigation-minded partners like architects, engineers and risk-management stakeholders.

Illya Azaroff is a national and international leader in disaster mitigation, resilience, planning strategies and resilient building design with more than 25 years of experience.

For lightning safety awareness month, LPI connected with Illya Azaroff, AIA founder of +Lab Architect in New York for his expert thoughts about lightning and lightning protection. Azaroff is a national and international leader in disaster mitigation, resilience, planning strategies and resilient building design with more than 25 years of experience. He consults and collaborates with city, state and federal agencies, professional organizations, not-for-profits, community groups, foreign governments and design teams on building resilient capacity issues.

Here are a few highlights from LPI’s interview with Azaroff.

How familiar are you with lightning protection?

I’m quite familiar with lightning protection. Growing up in the Midwest, lightning and thunderstorms were common occurrence. Buildings had lightning rods and grounding, particularly in rural areas. Here in New York, our recently completed Hurricane Strong home in Breezy point is a single family all-hazard prototype that incorporates a broad range of resilient measures. Lightning protection is one of them. The project is located near the beach in an area where lightning is historically a leading threat to homes. We incorporated lightning protection with the help of LPI. Any architect or engineer looking at all-hazard design needs to consider lightning protection as part of a greater strategy.

As an architect, what would you like to learn about lightning protection systems?

I would like to know strategies for various types of construction circumstances and locations. The installation and how it aligns with and protects other electrical services in the building. I think there is a great degree of importance in protecting equipment and data. 

Are there design/building trends that you see where lightning protection can play an important role?

Yes, there are two important instances. The first is as populations continue to migrate to cities, the urban density increases and so does the exposure to lightning. The second is due to an increased complexity and reliance, as our society increasingly leans on data and electric consumption. Protecting emerging networks, patterns of electrical distribution and storage will become increasingly important.

Do you have suggestions for ways that the lightning protection industry can better connect with architects?

The fact that LPI is a provider of an AIA registered continuing education course is of interest to architects. As a resilience expert, this information is essential to know so that we can advise others. Demonstration videos are a great way to spark interest, as well. But the one thing that gets great attention is sharing success stories from built work–artifacts of how and why lightning protection is important to the people and businesses that occupy these fortified buildings.

Architects, engineers and designers are invited to visit LPI booth #6348 at the AIA Conference on Architecture 2019 #A19CON in Las Vegas today and tomorrow to learn more about national standards for lightning protection systems and sign-up for LPI’s Build & Protect newsletter.

“Lightning protection systems have become increasingly important for the building process, as businesses and planners continue to emphasize sustainable approaches to design and construction,” said Bud VanSickle, LPI’s executive director.

Since specifying LPS is part of a best practice risk management approach, LPI has created a short video Designing with Lightning in Mind that reviews five important reasons for including lightning protection systems in building plans.

The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 30, 2019, in Breezy Point, NY to celebrate the collaborative completion of the world’s first #HurricaneStrong home. Designed by Illya Azaroff, AIA founder of +Lab Architect, the all-hazard prototype home includes a safety standard compliant lightning protection system donated by LPI and member companies from ECLE and Associated Lightning Rod.

The launch of the 2019 AIA Film Challenge, the Blueprint for Better Film Series will debut a documentary short film, Designed to Last: Blueprint for a Better Home highlighting Azaroff’s collaborative work with federal agencies, building product manufacturers and nonprofit organizations that led to the design of the HurricaneStrong home. Azaroff has made plans for the all-hazard prototype home (which includes a lightning protection system), available to architects and builders for free, as a resource for building disaster resilient homes.

About the Lightning Protection Institute

The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) is a not-for-profit, nationwide group founded in 1955 to promote lightning safety, awareness and education and is a leading resource for lightning protection information and system requirements. Visit the LPI website at for more information.